Movie Reviews by Robert Masters

The following brief reviews comments were written by

The author of this website —  www.must-see-movies.net

They were originally written for Netflix Reviews

These brief review comments are not full reviews

Only Films Rated 3 or 4 Stars Are Recommended

Listed by Date Written, Starting with Most Recent

 

Web Junkie

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

Seven of the boys escape through one of the barred windows, but they go directly to an internet cafe! — where they are soon caught, again playing video games non-stop addictively! Which proves the point of it being an addiction.  (Written 3/18/15)

Our Fathers

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Better than a newspaper article or a dry documentary, this vivid docudrama reenacts the interviews of the victims as the best way to show their “overwhelming feeling of almost volcanic eruption of emotions”. We see them portrayed as they describe how they were children raped by priests, religious leaders that they and their parents trusted and looked up to. A docudrama like this is a way for more people to see this story and understand what these victims were going through and still are going through. Incredibly, one mother is shown who found out that all seven of her sons were raped by one of these priests.  (Written  3/17/15)

 

A Matter of Sex

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

Just imagine yourself as one of these women protestors, outside on a picket line through two freezing Minnesota winters every day all day!  (Written 2/1/15)

 

The Last Cigarette

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Many young people born after 2000 in the USA have no idea how widespread smoking was in the past, nor how it killed over 400,000 Americans yearly. Now when smoking is forbidden in many public places because second-hand smoke also kills non-smokers, young people are also unaware that in the past there were many ads for cigarettes on television, before they were outlawed. So in this movie The Last Cigarette, video-clips of old cigarette ads show how tobacco companies used advertising to persuade people to smoke their brands of cigarettes, and many of the ads are hilarious in retrospect. And film-clips from old movies show almost everyone smoking back then. But interspersed with these film-clips of people smoking, The Last Cigarette also shows a major turning point, the congressional hearing in 1994 when the CEOs of the major cigarette companies were asked if they knew how dangerous their cigarettes are – and they are seen telling lies. But there are still 1.1 billion smokers in the world today, and if current trends continue, that number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2025. Kids are still picking up smoking at the alarming rate of 3,000 a day in the U.S., and 80,000 to 100,000 a day worldwide. Half of all long-term smokers will die a tobacco-related death.  (Written 1/19/15)

 

Nature: Touching the Wild

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

The winter scenery is beautiful, and a film about living surrounded by a herd of mule deer in a remote wilderness is unique. But I can’t help feeling that Joe Hutto is slightly exaggerating his relationship with these deer. He is physically close to them because he is living in the middle of the small sheltered valley the deer have returned to instinctively for many generations every winter after scattering widely all summer. This is not so unique, because the viewer will remember other films of researchers who have lived among animals in the wild – like Grizzly Man Timothy Treadwell, and Jane Goodall among wild chimpanzees, and Dian Fosse among mountain gorillas. But I feel the thing that slightly exaggerates Joe Hutto’s relationship with these deer is the fact that when they come close to “interact” with him, Joe can clearly be seen slipping them food to eat out of his hand, the same way Sea World handlers slip food to killer whales when they perform as trained, minimizing this feeding aspect so the crowd believes the animals are performing for their benefit, rather than for the food. As for deer, the need for scarce food in winter is the main reason herds winter in sheltered valleys like the one in this film, so maybe even you too would come up to Joe there if he offered food. And anyone who has visited state and national parks may have noticed that deer there do not flee from humans, because deer cannot be shot at there. The first time I stopped my car in a state park near Joseph Oregon, deer startled me by running up to the car door as I opened it, hoping for food, because they had become unafraid of tourists who fed them there. That’s why I can’t help feeling that Joe Hutto is slightly exaggerating his relationship with these deer that he feeds. But even with this slight reservation, I heartily recommend this film for the things that are unique about it, and mourn with him at the inevitable deaths of animals he was close to.  (Written 12/8/14)

 

Gasland Part II

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Natural Gas from Fracking will give the industry another hundred years of fossil fuels. During the early years of fracking Natural Gas will be cheap enough to allow us to switch from oil, but much of this new natural gas will be shipped abroad where because of fuel scarcity it is selling for much higher prices than in the USA — which will eventually cause the price to rise in this country too. So Fracking may appear on the surface to be about energy independence for the USA and continued prosperity. But ultimately it’s all about profits for the industry that will turn the USA with its vast areas fuel shale into a new Saudi Arabia of exports from Fracking. As for Global warming, Fracking is the worst of all the emitters of greenhouse gasses because it releases them directly into the air from the millions of wells. So 100 years of fracking will result in 100 years of increasing global warming. If the Fracking boom continues future generations will suffer from poisoned aquifers and other unknown environmental ills. The vast areas of the USA covering fuel shale will be changed by millions of wells for Fracking into a new type of uninhabitable industrial desert.(Written 11/24/14)

 

The Fruit Hunters

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

At first this movie made me aware that there are many, many different fruits in the world than the dozen or so we have grown up eating. It made me wonder why I have never even heard of so many of these different fruits, much less seen them in stores, or tasted them. Then I realized that I have sometimes seen some of these “exotic” fruits in stores for very brief periods, but being unfamiliar with them and what they taste like, I never try eating them and wouldn’t know how to do so. The movie made these strange fruits so appetizing that I now want to become a “fruit hunter” myself when I see them in stores and when traveling to foreign countries where they grow. Thanks for stimulating my taste buds and taste for adventurous eating!  (Written 11/20/14)

 

Tiny: A Story About Living Small

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

Many of the Tiny Houses in this film are built by people looking at the big picture (like anti-consumerism), but whose vision is blurred. They build their Tiny Houses wherever they happen to live. But if you’re going to live in only 100 square feet, perhaps you could first consider moving to a place where you can be outside your Tiny House most of the time, like in Hawaii, or short of that, near a ski resort out West where there is lots of sunshine and winter is fun outdoors. Their view of the big picture is also fuzzy when without experience they try to design and build a tiny house, ignoring the many years of professional design history of live-aboard small sailboats and travel-trailers. Most of these Tiny Houses are built on a trailer base as a temporary structure to evade building regulations, and as such are limited to the width of one lane on roadways. Also, they build their tiny house of wood, which looks beautiful on the interior, but being tiny unavoidably looks like an outhouse from the outside. In the film the young guy building a Tiny House on a trailer maybe should have bought a used travel-trailer instead — but that would not be film-worthy, would it. The trailer-size aspect of Tiny Houses limits this movement away from McMansion-sized mortgages toward temporary housing independence primarily for young bachelors who build a Tiny House for the price of a car. But their girlfriends are instinctively wary of moving with them into such a small space, without room to add any children. One guy, after living in a Tiny House for ten years, says he moved into a “mansion” of 500 square feet. Disclosure: Inspired by Thoreau and his book “Walden” to try to work less and live more, I built and lived in an experimental foam dome house of 500 square feet for ten years in Aspen, Colorado, with my girlfriend, and we actually had one room we didn’t even use: you can Google video interview at Xanadu Sedona Masters.  (Written 11/11/14)

 

Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Alex Gibney in his introduction to the film Big Boys Gone Bananas!* by Fredrik Gertten says the following: “Some documentary filmmakers give voice to people who otherwise may be ignored, offer a fresh perspective to a news story that other media may not cover, and are not afraid to disclose uncomfortable truths. Fredrik Gertten is not just brave enough to do that job, but to fight for the right to do it. When Dole food company sued Fredrik to keep a documentary he made in 2009 from being seen, but he didn’t back down, and he fought back, on principle. So the stage is set. In one corner, Dole the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, fortified with high-priced attorneys and spin-doctors. In the other corner, a Swedish independent filmmaker, armed with his conviction of what is right. What are the odds he’ll win? It’s definitely worth talking about.” (Written 5/19/14)

 

American Addict

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Many adults can remember when the trusted family physician used to make house calls, and practiced the doctor’s credo of “Do no harm.” Today new doctors are still on the tail end of this tradition of trustworthy family doctors, but the fact is that MANY MODERN DOCTORS CANNOT BE TRUSTED, because they place their own financial interest in profit ahead of your health and well-being as a patient.  (Written 5/17/14)

 

Terms And Conditions May Apply

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

The film points out that we get a lot of valuable free services from Google, Facebook etc., and in turn we allow a lot of personal data to be used for their purposes. In Europe customers can find out how much information a company has collected on them, and one Austrian found Facebook had 1200 pages of info on him, a pile of papers five inches high (and he only posted once a week). This is more info on any one person than the FBI or CIA could assemble in the past, and this is all supplied voluntarily, so it is permissible and easier for them to get it from third-party companies than via wiretaps. The NSA watches and saves everything digital. Nothing is hidden. Nothing is really deleted, because anything deleted can be recovered. An international surveillance industry is selling spying systems that affect all of us. Most alarming are stories told in the film by people who were put on “Watch Lists” because of some innocuous searches or comments they made online. A fellow settling in to watch the movie “Fight Club” quoted a speech from the film on Facebook, and before long went to answer a knock on the door from the NYPD Swat Team in body armor, all because of a bad joke on Facebook. A seventh-grader concerned about Obama’s visit to Tacoma who posted that the president should watch out for suicide bombers was called upon in his classroom by men from the Secret Service who investigated him as a potential threat. And stories involving “PREVENTING Protests.” In England party-goers dressed as zombies for a flash mob wedding picnic far from the Royal Wedding were arrested for “potential breach of the peace” to prevent them from getting anywhere near it, even though they had made no move to do so, and had no intention of doing so. So surveillance measures are being used to silence protests before they even happen, jailing people for even thinking about a protest. They don’t need to commit any crime, just text or email or call each other about potentially protesting. (Written 5/16/14)

 

Dirty Wars

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

This film claims the War on Terror has generated an ever-increasing number of enemies without trials on a hit list to be killed by Drones worldwide, which also kill civilians as “collateral damage”. How is this different from the many “enemies of the state” killed by Stalin, and Hitler, all the South American dictators, and other dictators worldwide throughout history? (Written on 4/21/14)

 

The Loving Story

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

After you watch this movie and get to know these two fine Loving people, you will never ever forget them.  (Written 4/19/14)

 

Frontline: League of Denial

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Excellent investigative journalism by Frontline and others reveals that the ongoing NFL committee formed in the 1990s to supposedly investigate concussions instead deliberately dragged its feet with claims of continuing research actually designed to stall the day of reckoning on this issue by denial. Other outside genuine research that revealed brain damage in deceased players was discredited and stonewalled by the NFL. When the NFL finally admitted it knew about this brain damage all along, the NFL’s dam of denial finally burst, releasing a flood of public attention and alarm that continues to this day, including revelations by former player and their wives about the extent of mental deterioration. A lawsuit by former players that would have resulted in a trial forcing the NFL to admit how much they knew and when was settled out of court for over 700 million dollars, itself a massive admission of guilt by the NFL. This film is a must-see for anyone who played football in the past, and everyone with children thinking about possibly playing football in the future on any level, and for all NFL football fans.  (Written 1/29/14)

 

Lost in Austen

RJ Masters rated this movie: 2 Stars

Jemima Rooper was not likable enough, nor pretty enough, to hold attention for three hours as a heroine. Her performance was all of one note with one fixed disagreeable expression on her face.  (Written 11/12/10)

 

The Old Curiosity Shop

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

The actors and staging of this are quality British. But the hour and a half limit compresses the storytelling to an unsatisfying degree, especially compared to more suitable lengthier mini-series versions of long Dickens’ novels. So this final scene with Nell and her father feels flat instead of dramatic.  Lacking a DVD option for subtitles, this British English is often difficult to understand for an American. Some of the scenes seem to drag on too long. But the typical Dickens colorful characters make the Old Curiosity Shop worth watching.  (Written 5/5/09)

 

Children of Heaven

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

The Iranian film Children of Heaven may be a perfect movie. Like literature’s short story form at its best, only essential aspects are included so that every detail helps tell a simple tale. Beyond that, as in the best movies most details rather than being told in dialog are shown visually. This is further necessitated because the main actors are in first through third grade, at an age when they have not yet learned how to verbalize their feelings, so the audience sees emotions in their faces and actions instead. Screenwriters and film students could first turn off the subtitles to see how a story can be told through what is shown instead of told, including a wonderful final scene — seen only in the viewers’ minds. Throughout the film there is nostalgic and wistful humor, ironically in watching children traumatized as we remember we were at that age by small events they will learn how to deal with better only when they get older. You will be charmed and fall in love with these unforgettable children and their story.  (Written 8/2/08)

 

F for Fake

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

F For Fake should be considered a companion piece to follow seeing the film The Hoax with Richard Gere about Clifford Irving’s fake “authorized autobiography” of Howard Hughes, because F For Fake includes Irving himself talking extensively about his bio-book Fake on the art forger Elmyr de Hory when they both lived on the island of Ibiza. Clifford’s wife and another woman who was his mistress, both of whom are portrayed by actresses in the Hoax, both appear extensively as themselves in F For Fake.  (Written 11/4/07)

 

American Masters: Andy Warhol

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

This film portrait of the artist showed me many things that I did not know about Warhol. During his career as a commercial artist he became a successful illustrator of his time. Having learned as a designer how to make commercial objects attractive, he eventually penetrated the barrier between commerce and art with his paintings of Campbell’s soup cans — which no one would buy except the gallery owner who paid $1000 and eventually resold to the Museum of Modern Art for fifty million dollars. What enabled Warhol to pass off commercial art as fine art – a concept initially rejected by critics, painters, and public – was controversy over his repeated images of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and Elvis that turned the media spotlight on him and made him into a celebrity too. Obsessed with fame, the nerdy painter was transformed by super-stardom to the extreme of being considered a super-hip very cool guy fascinating to watch and hear. This four hour film is seriously marred by endless pretentious florid gobbledygook discussions of his work by now-worshipful art critics and friends.  (Written 7/3/07)

 

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

This story is gritty. And realistic, except when Albert Finney sees his married girlfriend with her husband and buddies at a fair and secretly pulls her aside, risking discovery for no good reason except that the plot calls for it. Then when she pulls away to run back to her husband, she and Finney inexplicably climb into a fun ride and are discovered just so the plot can get him beat up by the buddies in an obviously fake fight. Otherwise a convincing character study of a young rat so despicable that he scares a female coworker with a dead rat. Raising the question: Why should we care about this character?  (Written 6/19/07)

 

Stolen Summer

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

Some of the reviews of Stolen Summer praise the acting and cinematography but fault the writing and story line by novice writer/director Pete Jones. So the failure of Stolen Summer is by extension the failure of Project Greenlight, because if this was judged the best of the 10,000 entries in the contest, then how bad must the other 9,999 entries have been? What is not addressed is the judging process itself. Perhaps young Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are not experienced enough to in effect run their own production company and select movies that will succeed. Perhaps to appeal to the young moviegoers demographic this story featuring child actors was selected. Perhaps the Project Greenlight required a charismatic opinionated director to be “cast” so the television series would be interesting enough to succeed. Also not addressed is the extremely low [by Hollywood standards] one million dollar budget and the severely reduced shooting time it imposes that limits the choice of scripts. Perhaps among those 10,000 scripts were several great movies that did not get made for various reasons. It may be wrong to judge Project Greenlight from this first film and then conclude that it is hopeless to try to find talent outside the Hollywood system. Many Hollywood movies are faulted similarly: great acting and cinematography but weak writing and story.  (Written 5/8/07)

Nicholas Nickelby

Average rating: 3.119

This 1977 miniseries version of Nicholas Nickelby is marred in spots by characterizations and acting so over the top that it sometimes resembles a high school play. Rather than this 1977 miniseries, I recommend instead the 2002 movie version or the 2001 miniseries. (Written 1/24/07)

 

Schultze Gets the Blues

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

After a sad lifetime underground as a miner, Schultze gets more of the blues from retirement monotony in former East Germany. Then he begins to get a different kind of blues by listening to a type of lively American “Blues”, Creole accordion-based zydeco music. But when Schultze plays it on his accordion in public, there this happy music is received coldly. So Schultze at last embarks on his first adventure, too little too late, to Cajun country in America where he is received warmly, despite the language barrier that precludes dialog. (This film reminds me of a Dixieland Jazz Festival seen in former East Germany, with German musicians playing cheerful American Dixieland under drizzling gray skies for Dresden Germans trying but not quite knowing how to be as happy as the music.) Lovers of fast action flics may get the blues from watching the glacial pace of boredom depicted in this director’s flawed first film. Schultze could be said to have an American “cousin” in Jack Nicholson’s film Äbout Schmidt”.  (Written 1/9/07)

 

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3

Trying to make a movie about suburban life interesting? Throw in a bunch of surprises. Two couples arrive for a typical dinner party, but on the wrong day. So they take their surprised hostess out to a typical restaurant, where surprisingly the owner who just died is laid out in the next room, unappetizingly. So they leave, again without having eaten, which becomes a running gag. Surprisingly these attractive upper class couples are diplomat drug smugglers [ooh, satirizing the wealthy]. So at their next attempted dinner party, they flee in fear imagining cops, because the maid saw the hosts surprisingly sneak out a second story window, actually for noisy lovemaking before dinner. A Bishop arrives, but surprisingly applies for job as gardener [ooh, satirizing religion]. At the next attempted dinner party, army officer friends surprisingly arrive for maneuvers but leave before the offered meal, so the General invites them to dinner at his place. When they arrive, the table surprisingly turns out to be in a stage play, which surprisingly turns out to be only a dream. When they do arrive at the General’s house, he surprisingly insults the diplomat, who surprisingly shoots the General, which surprisingly turns out to be only another dream. The movie viewer, perhaps at first intrigued by these surprising turns of contrived events as theater of the absurd, by this time may decide it is all absurdly pointless.  (Written 10/23/06)

Pickwick Papers

Average rating: 2.978

The Pickwick Papers series DVD I saw did not come with subtitles option, which is unfortunate for non-Brits, because much of the verbal humor is difficult to make out in the 1830’s cockney of the characters like Sam Weller and his father. The situation comedy is clearer, but to fully appreciate the genius of this comic masterpiece read the book in which almost every line will make you smile or laugh out loud, along with watching this otherwise excellent television series on DVD.  (Written 9/2/06)

 

Seven Beauties

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Seven Beauties is a satire of the macho male, Italian style. Pasqualino begins in flashbacks as a strutting peacock of a man so humorously exaggerated in caricature by the talents of the marvelous actor Giannini that the pose is transparent and even enjoyable as entertainment rather than annoying pretension. This preening overdressed man-about-town swaggers and flirts while his fat sisters and mother sweat in a mattress workshop, presumably supporting him. When he discovers the oldest ugly sister dancing in a girlie show, his male “honor” becomes outraged. She explains that the pimp has promised to marry her and is her last hope at age 37, even though he is obviously only using her. Later serving as a soldier in WWII takes the false bravado out of Pasqualino. Then imprisoned by the Nazis he survives by prostituting himself in sexually servicing the bearish barely female guard in a repulsive scene [that also reveals how women prostitutes must feel]. Released he returns to find the sweet young girl in love with him also had to prostitute herself to survive. Now instead of outraged “honor”, he proposes to her with perhaps greater understanding.(Written 7/28/06)

 

Il Posto

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Anybody who has a job should see Il Posto. The workplace is seen through the fresh eyes of a young man as he gets his first job. Much that he sees mystifies him. One old man waiting for the end bell every day actually retired six months ago, but still comes in to the office every day pathetically. Set in the fifties when getting a job meant having the same one for life, providing a life of security but also death-in-life. Older men grown grotesque from sitting for years at desks in rows in windowless bleak offices, waiting to move up when someone dies. One who does die spent his nights secretly writing a novel, still unfinished at his death when tossed away, his desperate dream dying with him. Portrayed through the boy’s facial reactions with minimum dialogue. Also other unforgettable scenes: Taking the aptitude test. Visiting the boss’ office. Trying on his uniform. Arriving alone early to the Christmas party. Not a depressing movie because much of what he sees is so amusing, and he falls in love with a beautiful young coworker, played by an actress who the director Olmi later married. Autobiographical from Olmi’s life in Milan, the DVD also has a second must-see movie, the Crush, puppy-love of a fifteen-year-old. (Written 8/20/05)

 

Days of Heaven

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

Days of Heaven features cinematography of beautiful scenery, like National Geographic films. It reveals the Great Plains’ gorgeous moments, many at sunset, that took a full year to film, (so those beautiful moments may be few there, as anyone driving boring hours across it might suspect.) I read the director threw away the script, and it shows. He could have fired the actors too, for the scenery to star in a pure documentary. To show even more scenery, some shots are improbably outdoors, as the cast riding atop trains rather than inside, and the payroll office is a desk in a field. The plot calls for Richard Gere’s woman to pose as his sister because “you know how people talk” — which causes one man to talk. People may in fact have been inarticulate then, but the silence of the actors leaves much plot mystifying. To find the killer, the avenger uses only a single word: “Where?” Most explaining is incoherent voice-over mumbled by the young girl in an annoyingly thick New Yawk accent, even though she’s supposed to be from Chicago. Also illogically, a handful of people try to beat locusts out of a tiny patch of a field that extends past the horizon everywhere. “The characters are part of the landscape, and the plot unfolds through what is seen more than what is said.” The overall feeling is like hard-to-follow poetry.  (Written 8/9/05)

 

The Decline of the American Empire

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

The first half of The Decline of the American Empire consists of four fit women working out vigorously at a health club. While four flabbier men, led by a gay ‘head chef’, cook a decadent meal together, in a reversal of traditional roles that our John Wayne ancestors would have truly considered the Decline of the American Empire. The four pasty pastry men certainly did not look physically fit enough to repel any Barbarian Invasions of Vandals coming to attack Rome, New York, as during the Decline of the Roman Empire. Even though they all talked a good game, and talked and talked, in a way that would have given strong silent Gary Cooper a headache by High Noon. And they smugly talked and talked in French about the Decline of the American Empire, something we might expect from even French Canadians. It all sounded like a French version of My Dinner With Andre during The Big Chill in international relations. Oh, by the way, all they talk about is intellectual sex.  (Written 8/8/05)

 

The Boondock Saints

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

Saints preserve us! From the implications of this movie. One of its best aspects was the musical score, religious chant-song sounding medieval and resonating with the church’s blessing, as for the “Holy” Crusades’ slaughter of the “Infidels”. Priests of every age and every country tell their warriors, “God is on our side.” Kill in war, and win a medal. But kill in society, and be killed by the State. Except, when the State’s crusade against criminals isn’t getting the job done–do it yourself vigilante style, this movie urges. I liked Charles Bronson taking matters into his own hands in the original Death Wish film in 1974. But that doesn’t make it right. That movie was so popular with the public that four more followed over 20 years. And now this! It mentions Bronson. Boondock Saints says repeatedly that vigilantes are needed in every city in the United Stated, and its ending scripted “interviews” in the street hear many people “volunteering”. News may come of a real-life vigilante copycat “inspired” by this movie, giving it a publicity boost (like the one given to the movie Taxi Driver by presidential assailant Charles Hinckley). Shame, shame! Underneath Boondocks’ saintly facade, the true ugliness can be seen in the documentary titled Overnight on the struggle to get Boondock Saints made. Elsewhere, Critic Jamie Gillies describes Boondock Saints well as a weaker derivative of pulp fiction movies by Quentin Tarantino.  (Written 6/12/05)

 

Zorba the Greek

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Does the frigid North have something to learn from the sunny South? In Zorba the Greek, a timid young educated Englishman learns a thing or two from an exuberant wise old Greek (Anthony Quinn revealing his essence). All the characters are unforgettable, especially the ancient French coquette who reminisces about her glory days with all the different navy ‘amirals’. In the end, the Englishman asks Zorba to teach him to dance, Greek style, so he can learn to enjoy life more. The original sound track cassette came interspersed with quotes from Zorba on the joy of living that was great to play on the way to the next adventure. A variation on this North/South theme is also explored in Babette’s Feast, cooked to give eat-to-live Scandanavians a taste of the live-to-eat French lifestyle.  (Written 4/10/05)

 

Tom Jones

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

In 1963 when I saw this as a young man trying to figure life out, Tom Jones was a revelation. It painted the joy of living vividly – never before had I seen any two people have so much fun eating. Zest and gusto bring smiles to faces in every scene. Seeing fun-filled bawdy adventures in the 1700s revealed timeless pursuits usually masked by the decorum of proper behavior in public. This was obviously the best way to live, for me, and so I did in the seventies in Aspen, a place where simpatico people concentrate on making living as much fun as possible. What movie can be better than one that shows you the best way to live?  (Written 4/4/05)

 

Flashdance

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

“What an amazing movie!” a serious friend said in 1983. So we went to see, and stayed to watch it again. Other friends from Aspen called to say the same (one had ripped off my shirt dancing). But reviewers were lukewarm — how could that be? Maybe reviewers hadn’t spent nights of their youth dancing wildly as music pounded through bodies. They objected to a similar plot they loved in Rocky. The stunning youthful beauty of Jennifer Beals is mesmerizing, like that of Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, or Sean Young in No Way Out, or Lauren Bacall in Key Largo and The Big Sleep. Flashdance — What a Feeling!  (Written 4/3/05)

Heat

RJ Masters rated this movie: 3 Stars

DeNiro and Pacino pairing is a treat, especially in improbable scene as adversaries lunching together in a cafe, leading to holding hands in final death scene, truly touching. But Pacino is over-the-top in yelling quotable-line attempts a la ooo-aah.. Armored-truck ambush and bank robbery shootout are thrillingly violent. Ashley Judd riveting as usual. But obligatory scenes for female movie-goers, of love and sex and domestic problems, degenerates into soap-opera by showing the homelife turmoil of every major character. And bachelor DeNiro’s courtship is almost-but-not-quite believable, too quick even for a 3 hour movie. Finale of DeNiro getaway detour for revenge, necessary for climax, loses audience thinking “I wouldn’t do that.” (Written 4/2/05)

 

Nanook of the North

RJ Masters rated this movie: 5 Stars

Credited as the first documentary film, it shows activities of an Eskimo family in 1922, before that way of life later vanished in modern times. Though a picture may be worth a thousand words, I recommend as a companion piece a remarkable book for anyone wanting a fuller account of native Eskimo life. The book Kabloona was written by a French nobleman named Gontran de Poncins, who spent fifteen months living among the Inuit during 1938-39. He wanted to live with and describe people up to then almost untouched by modern civilization (only one French priest was living with them). He took with him ample supplies of fancy French food, but found it was not nourishing enough in the constant cold, so he switched to the native diet of seal hacked off a frozen carcass stored in the ‘living room’ of the igloo and thawed over the candlelight flame – and found it the perfect food, for that climate. He also discovered that the Eskimos then were some of the happiest people, having lived without human enemies and in harmony with their environment for over 12,000 years. No more.  (Written 4/2/05)

 

The Saltmen of Tibet

RJ Masters rated this movie: 4 Stars

Spectacular mountain valley river scenery few will ever see otherwise. The necessarily plodding pace by yak on this three month long film trip was so foreign to some modern car-chase movie-goers that it inspired one to walk – out of the theater (see review by A Germ in Hawaii, a friend who saw part of the movie with me). The astounding fact is that such an arduous trip is still necessary for some primitive people in this day and age. The realization that we mall-people are witnessing the end of ways of living thousands of years old is emphasized by the fact that on their arrival after over a month, their Chinese competitors simply drove there in trucks. Our easy modern lifestyle is so relatively new that as recently as the worldwide Great Depression 1930s no economic system could guarantee “a chicken in every pot.” And the pervasive silence of nature was commonplace experience as recently as 100 years ago, before radios and TV. Suggestion for a follow-up experience after this movie – take a two-week raft trip down the Grand Canyon 275 miles, one-tenth the width of the United States, at the slow pace of the river, surrounded by nothing but the eloquent silence of spectacular scenery, accompanied only by a small nomadic tribe of fellow rafters, most of whom at trip’s end want to get right back on and do it again rather than return to “civilization”.  (Written 4/2/05)

 

Masters Reviews (36)

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